Category Archives: Blog

Croftwork – decay in the Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides of Scotland are a fantastic place to visit.  What is going against them is getting there – living in Sheffield for us its a seven/eight hour drive with a seven hour ferry crossing.  In the same time (as my wife likes to point out) we could probably be in the South of France.  That said, I can think of few places where you can pitch up in your camper van in a discrete spot and not be disturbed or be asked to move on.

When visiting the Uists you’re not quite taking a step back in time, but you are certainly dropping a gear or two in to a more unhurried way of thinking.

The story of the Outer Hebrides has been written about elsewhere, but in short it is one of  recent depopulation over the past 300 years to the present day.  First forcibly through the Highland Clearances and the movement of people off the fertile west coast to the more rocky and barren east coast and then cleared off the land completely and put on boats (through violence sometimes) to America and Canada to make way for sheep (Have a read of this interesting narrative from a gentleman brought up in Uig on Lewis – http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/general/resources/2015-Donald-J-MacLeod-Clearances-Uig-Lewis-&-Quebec.pdf).  Secondly through a lack of opportunity on the islands those that leave the islands don’t return, even when when buildings and crofts have been passed on to them – this leaves the land scattered with crofts (the buildings and the land) in various states of disrepair and ruin. (You can see the condition of some places in this previous blog post)

For the photographer this leaves a relatively uninhabited landscape with buildings that with care and respect can be explored and make ideal subjects for photography.

 

Croft and Fence, Eriskay, Outer Hebrides, decay, abandoned

Croft and Fence, Eriskay, Outer Hebrides

 

Eriskay is the island of “Whisky Galore!” fame. When the SS Politician went a ground during the Second World War, the locals helped themselves to the contents of the boat (more details can be found here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Politician).

"Trinity", Lochskipport, North Uist, Outer Hebrides, decay, sheiling

“Trinity”, Lochskipport, North Uist, Outer Hebrides

Lochskipport lies on the East coast of South Uist.  It was the former deep water landing place for boats bringing supplies to the island.  To think that in 1889, despite the clearances, this area had its own school with 16 pupils (http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/files/PDFs/00915604_Free_Church_1889-05.pdf).

Lingerbay on the Golden Road, Harris, Outer Hebrides, decay, croft, abandoned

Lingerbay on the Golden Road, Harris, Outer Hebrides

With help from David Ward (http://www.into-the-light.com/) I managed to track down this abandoned croft at Lingerbay.  There were plans for a “superquarry” here in this National Scenic Area, which were eventually rejected, but if memory serves it did set do gooding outsiders against locals wanting new jobs.

Manish on the Golden Road, Harris, Outer Hebrides, decay, crofts

Manish on the Golden Road, Harris, Outer Hebrides

Further along the Golden Road on Harris there is a small cluster of abandoned buildings at Manish.  If you are in the area, be sure to visit The Mission House Studio (http://missionhousestudio.blogspot.co.uk/) to look at some great photography and ceramics.

End of Life, Callanish, Lewis, Outer Hebrides, abandoned, boat

End of Life, Callanish, Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Near the Callanish Stone Circle this small boat is beached and is rotting away. I was impressed at how the boat seems to have been a bit of an evolution, being a basic wooden boat, but appearing to have an engine and fibre glass bridge added to it over the years.  This led me to think about the decisions and the motivations behind eventually beaching it and whether those thoughts and actions were much different to those who in recent years have left the crofts they have inherited to go to ruin.

 

More of my photography from the Outer Hebrides can be found on my Portfolio site – http://www.alastairrossphotography.co.uk/outer-hebrides/

 

Also posted in Landscape, Scotland Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Callanish Stone Circles, Isle of Lewis

Away from the famous/popular Callanish Stone Circle there are a number of other stone circles in the immediate area (less than about one kilometer from the busy main site).  If you seek a bit of a solitude and you find the main stone circle too busy (which is more often than not unless you get up for dawn) then a walk out to Callanish II and III would be what you need.

Aside from Callanish II and  III there at least another 16 sites in the wider area designated as being part of the wider neolithic complex.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callanish_Stones).

All photographs taken using expired Fujifilm Superia on a Zero Image 2000

Callanish III on to Callanish II, pinhole, colour superia

Callanish III on to Callanish II

Abandoned House, Callanish II, pinhole, fujifilm

Abandoned House, Callanish II

Callanish II, abandoned house, lewis, pinhole

Callanish II and House

Also posted in Pinhole, Scotland Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

New Work

I’ve been sat on top of a pile of scanning of late that has photographs dating back a good couple of months in it.  I’ve been lacking the motivation to scan them really (aside from that troublesome thing called the day job getting in the way too) .  A lot of the slides have lens flare in them, which had demotivated me, as the morning that I took those shots was fantastic – the sort where you might catch me doing a small happy dance as everything came together for that moment.  There was of course more in the pile than that of course, but it killed my motivation for a bit.

But, I am scanning now and here are a couple that go straight in to my Limb Brook Project.

Pool at One of the Ends

One of the Ends

 

At the first May Bank holiday we (me and the family) went on a day trip to the eery Brimham Rocks with Anna Booth.  Its an interesting location made all the more interesting by the low cloud that enveloped the rocks.

Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire

 

At the end of May Bank Holiday I took myself and the campervan up to the West Highlands of Scotland – an inspiration lacking trip that I have written about else where.

Buachaille Etive Mor, West Highlands, Scotland

Glen Etive, West Highlands, Scotland

Loch Tulla, West Highlands, Scotland

 

Believe it or not the last photograph has not been fiddled with – this was how the camera and the film saw it – it was a glorious light.

 

 

Also posted in Scotland Tagged , , , , , , |

When in North Wales

We spent the Easter holidays in North Wales, basing ourselves at the excellent Caravan and Camping Club site at Bala (which was more like Greater Bala than actual Bala).  As I have grown to expect in North Wales, it was quite wet.  But that didn’t stop us going out everyday, as the kids are still of an age that pottering around and having a picnic outside is an adventure – even if it is chucking it down.   Here are a couple of photographs taken during the trip.

The top and bottom images were taken at Cwmorthin Quarry near Ffestiniog in North Wales.  I was first introduced to Cwmorthin by Richard Childs whilst on a workshop of his a couple of years ago and have always wanted to return as the place offers so much photographic potential.

 

A view of some reeds, the lake and an abandonded building at Cwmorthin Quarry, North Wales A yew tree on its own amongst older trees at Conway Falls, North Wales Chapel,Cwmorthin Quarry, North Wales

Also posted in Bronica, North Wales Tagged , , , , |

Kintraw Standing Stone

Kintraw Standing Stone West Coast of Scotland

As part of my mini road trip (described here) when driving from Oban to Kilmartin I stopped to pause at this fantastic standing stone at Kintraw.  I passed it two years ago, but given its situation, its very difficult to stop unless you are already slowing down for it before you see it (if that makes sense?). The Kintraw Standing Stone is flanked by at least two burial mounds (one of them a nice little kerbed cairn).  It is a great location with views out to sea and Jura beyond – maybe somewhat polluted with the marina and the boats berthed there.

Despite always traveling with “The Orange” book (Julian Cope’s “Modern Antiquarian”), I didn’t think to reach for it – and I wish I had.  The site, it has been deduced, was an astronomical site, with a viewing platform on the hill behind, where there was an alignment with the Kintraw Standing Stone and a clef in the hills over on the island of Jura and the solstice.   I wish I knew this, as that would have made for an interesting late morning potter around the hill side.

That said I did get the pinhole camera out and took a couple of exposures that I hope one will make its way in to my “Ties to the Land” project (http://tiestotheland.co.uk).

If this sort of thing floats your boat here are two references below:-

Also posted in Scotland Tagged , , , , , , , |

On wasting petrol (with apologies to Susan Sontag)

With the Bank Holiday upon us and the wife and kids off for the week with the Mother-in-Law, I had the weekend to myself.    Thoughts started about where I should go in the camper van (its working just now).  My first thought was for an epic trip up to Torridon in Scotland, but I don’t think my driving stamina would have got me that far (probably the central reservation of the A9!).  Then thoughts turned to the Lakes – of course what could be better – the English Lake District on a Bank holiday weekend!  So, thoughts turned back north again to Scotland with an “easy” drive to Inveroran on the edge of Rannoch Moor and near the well photographed Scots Pine trees at Loch Tulla.

After a challenging drive of some 6 and half hours I pulled in to the car park at Victoria Bridge.  The next day, the weather forecasters had promised mist, instead I got a very low cloud base and nothing of interest.  Not to be deterred, I pressed on from trying the “classic” (cliched)? pine shot to have a potter down Glen Etive.  (You may remember Mr Bond driving along it in his DB5 from “Skyfall”).  Glen Etive is not without its own cliches, including that infamous bike lying against a dilapidated shed (look it up on Flickr) (and yes I did take a photo as well).  I spent an hour or so down by the river side trying to take a shot of a captivating water fall against the back drop of a scots pine.  Further back up the road I have to admit I stopped to take “that” shot of the Buachaille Etive Mor by the water fall.  The area by the falls is like the Somme, it has been so well trodden by photographers over the years that it has turned in to a quagmire.

A key feature of this trip, despite driving on to Glen Coe,  Ballachulish (to look at the quarry), round via Appin to end back up in Glen Orchy all in one day – I took very few photographs.  I put this down to the weather, first it was too wet, then it got too bright.  By the last night, when I got to Tayvallich, I had the weather I wanted, overcast and damp – and then it hit me.  I think I’m going through some photographic block.  Everything around me was beautiful. The moss hanging from the oaks and birches,  the bluebells just coming in to bloom, detail in the bark and the reflections in the various pools in the bogs.  But none of it I felt was enough to make me reach for the my camera.  There were of course exceptions (and some of these are below), but more often than not on this trip the cameras stayed in the bag. As a consequence that is why I came home a day early – me kinda quitting whilst I’m ahead.  It was an enjoyable trip – I clocked up 966 miles in the process.  Pottering around without an agenda is fun, and I have found new places that I would like to go back to in the future – but on this occasion the omph, the desire to get the camera out the bag really wasn’t there.  I can’t really describe it any better than that and I’m not going to dwell on it too much as the trip wasn’t a wasted trip either.

One thing I did find myself thinking when the weather was particularity bad was that I wished I had packed my Hassleblad Xpan  (Its a panoramic camera that I usually load with black and white film) – I’m not sure what it is about that camera but it does lend itself to poor weather conditions.  Lesson learnt – pack it next time, just in case.

Anyway without further a do – here are the snaps I took.

(Don’t forget to like and share this post if you can :) )

 

 

Also posted in Scotland Tagged , , , , , , , |

How to get to Padley Gorge

A common search that appears in my site stats is “How to get to Padley Gorge” – that despite me not giving directions on how to get there on this site.  I am aim to put that right with this little article :)

Padley Gorge Burbage Brook and Bridge

Padley Gorge, Derbyshire Peak District

 

Padley Gorge is about 25 minutes by car from the centre of Sheffield and lies at the edge of Longshaw Estate in Derbyshire Peak District.  The map below gives you an idea of the area – you might need to scroll around a bit to see all the markers.

How to get to Padley Gorge by train

At the foot of Padley Gorge is Grindleford train station Marked 3 on the map).  Grindleford station is served by stopping trains from both Sheffield and Manchester.  For more information about trains , please click on this link to National Rail Enquiries.

Beech Tree, Padley Gorge

Above Padley Gorge, Derbyshire Peak District

How to get to Padley Gorge by car

There are a number of options when going to Padley Gorge.  You can park up at Surprise View Car Park, Marked 1 on the map,  (pay and display) and walk down through Bolehill Quarry and then walk up through Padley Gorge.  This is my preferred route, as it makes a good day out, that can either be completed by walking up through a trackway/holloway back to the Surprise View Car Park, or it can be extended by adding a loop walking through the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate and then walking up the trackway.  (Don’t forget to visit the tea room in the Longshaw Estate if you do!).

 

The other options are either to park at the top of Padley Gorge (Marked 2 on the map) – this can get quite busy – especially on hot summer’s days when Sheffield comes out to play in the Burbage Brook which waters the Gorge.  The other option is park at Grindleford station (Marked 3) on the map, there are a couple of parking bays at the station, and you can also park on the access road – just be careful not to park in the parking bays for the cafe unless you intend to visit there too.

Padley Gorge and Burbage Brook

 

Padely Gorge offers up many classic photographic opportunities as well as the chance to get away from the more obvious shots (see above!) and try something different.  You can see some of my other work here.

Also posted in General, Peak District Tagged , , |

New Project – Limb Brook

I’ve started a new project over on my portfolio website (www.alastairrossphotography.co.uk) focusing on the Limb Brook – it is a stream that rises and ends within the boundaries of Sheffield, but in a past has served as the boundary between Yorkshire and Derbyshire and before that Mercia and Northumbria.  Its an unremarkable little stream, and by that very fact that I hope to push my photography out of my comfort zone and perhaps create something that is a little bit more challenging.

 

limb brook derbyshire peak district yorkshire border

Point of Departure – Limb Brook

Limb Brook, Ecclesall Woods

Limb Brook, Ecclesall Woods

Birch and Fungi, Limb Valley

Birch and Fungi, Limb Valley

You can see more from the start of this project by visiting – http://www.alastairrossphotography.co.uk/limb-brook/

Also posted in Bronica, Peak District Tagged , , , , , , |

Hot off the Scanner

A couple of new images from myself that I was scanning last night.  Three very different images , the first taken with Velvia, though I suspect I should have used Portra 160, the second taken using a long exposure and Velvia film and the other taken using Portra 160.

The first image I really want to like, but I’m not quite sure.  It was a very over cast and damp day and the sun wasn’t fully up yet. (And yes it is a bit noisey)

sea shell torridon scotland winter snow

Torridon Shell

 

long exposure river blurred motion velvia

Calm in Motion

 

The image below, which I’ve called “Point of Departure”, is the first in what I intend to be a small project based around charting the Limb Brook.  A small river that rises and ends within the city limits of Sheffield.  The Limb Brook used to be the border between Derbyshire and Yorkshire until recent times and before that I understand it was the border between Northumbria and Mercia.  The river rises near the hamlet of Ringinglow just inside the Sheffield boundary a few hundred yards from the Peak District and ends rather unceremoniously in the River Sheaf and in a mill pond at Millhouses in Sheffield.

limb brook derbyshire peak district yorkshire border

Point of Departure – Limb Brook

Also posted in Bronica, Peak District, Photography, Scotland Tagged , , , , , , |

The Old and the New

Some old photographic work

It is always nice to revisit work, to see how you’ve progressed and sometimes shudder as you think “Did I really think that was good?”  But a bit of reflection is always good, as you see how your photographic style has matured and developed.

Flicking through my back catalog of images, and I came across one of the classic (cliche?) Duke of Portland’s Boat House on Ullswater in the Lake District of England. This was back in September 2010, when I first met Mark Littlejohn Photography, as he drove by complimenting me on getting the weather, drove off and then came walking back along the road camera and tripod in hand some minutes later.  I’ve revisited the photograph and cropped it square, as is my “thing” just now and hopefully I’ve been less heavy handed with processing, though I have split toned it slightly.  You can see my earlier treatment of  this classic boat house in the Lake District scene here (is this progression or not :) )

Duke of Portlands Boat House, lake district, boat house

Some new photographic work

I’ve also been working through my back catalog of scanning.  The image below taken of Liathach in Torridon, North West Scotland, was one that I wasn’t quite sure of at first.  I thought it was a bit stark (for want of a better term) and cool, but there was always that nagging suspicion that there was more to this photograph and it eventually grew on me.  The tree had intrigued me for a week, as we visited this spot a couple of times,  it was a solitary Scots Pine (only about 3 feet tall) amongst some light Silverbirch woodland, but I hadn’t found a composition that pleased me, until this shot.   Interestingly, whilst I use film most of the time, I do still tend to take more than one shot of a scene (just in case!) before moving on.  For this shot I took the one exposure and moved on.  Despite the movement, it is a calming scene I feel, and its mood/feeling I would like to re-create in future photography.

 

You can see more of my recent (and revisited) photography by visiting my portfolio site – www.alastairrossphotography.co.uk

Ob Mheallaidh and Liathach , snow, torridon, scotland, north west scotland

Also posted in Bronica, Lake District, Landscape, Scotland Tagged , , , , , , , |